Text, photos, and website
Copyright Nick Pfannenstiel (303) 725-5439
designer and dreamer for Timber Tiger Aircraft, Inc., has been obsessed with
aviation since a very early age. Like many others, the obsession started
with model airplanes, both of the static display and radio control types.
Model kits were fun, but the journey to designing airplanes began at age 14. The
discovery of the "X-Plane" flight simulator, along with "Plane Maker", fueled
the desire to create new things, try new ideas, and begin drawing up
Along the way, many engineering books were purchased and many
nights were spent researching online. The study of aerodynamics led to the
study of materials.
At the age of 16, Nick got his foot in the door at an
airplane maintenance shop at Jefferson County Airport in Colorado (now Rocky
Mountain Metropolitain Airport). Scrubbing toilets and floors wasn't the
most glamorous job in the world, but helping the shop's mechanics helped earn a
job as the parts department manager and eventually a pilot's license at the age
Everything was of interest. No airplane was anything less
than beautiful to Nick, at least in some way. But his main areas of
interest were homebuilts and vintage aviation. Over 30 sets of airplane
blueprints were collected and studied between the ages of 14 and 30.
Assemblies for four airplane projects (a Pietenpol Air Camper fuselage, Hatz
Bantam tail feathers, and two Timber Tiger STOL fuselages) were started before
settling on the Ryan ST as the ideal first plane.
The airport parts
department job went well for several years. Many friends were made.
One such friend perished in a plane crash and everything changed soon
after. Aviation was no longer a desirable place to be. This would
change for the better years later.
In October of 2006, Nick created the
award-winning Flatliner Rod Shop, Inc. He ran the business (and still
does), grew with it, learned fine-detail work, learned management and people
skills, and found the time to begin dreaming of planes once again.
the support of his wife, Nick began the actual design phase of the 95% scale
Ryan ST in June of 2015. Construction began in early 2016. Though
not a professional engineer, the loss of pilot friends and other life
experiences prompted Nick to design the airplane to the best of his abilities,
calculations being checked over and over, professional engineers being consulted
as required. Many parts were built several times as manufacturing
processes were fine-tuned. Every part of the plane was re-drawn no less
than three times, sometimes as much as 12 times. "X-Plane" was a valuable
tool in confidence-building.
And that leaves us in the present. The
Ryan ST project is going strong and will soon be available for